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Box Office Breakdown: First Place Photo Finish Between Nun II, Haunting in Venice Confirms September Sequel Slump

Few were expecting Kenneth Branagh‘s A Haunting in Venice to do that well after last year’s Death on the Nile bombed worldwide, but it found itself struggling against another horror sequel, showing that maybe the decision to release endless sequels this month was a bad idea.

This Past Weekend

A Haunting in Venice started off the weekend with better reviews than both previous movies starring Branagh as Agatha Christie‘s Inspector Hercule Poirot, plus he had solid co-stars in Tina Fey, recent Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh, and not one but two stars from Branagh’s Oscar-winning BelfastJamie Dornan and Jude Hill. Its $1.2 million in Thursday previews didn’t bode well for it to do that much better than 2022’s Death on the Nile, which was delayed multiple times but then inevitably hobbled due to COVID. Sure enough, A Haunting in Venice opened with an estimated $14.5 million in 3,305 theaters, compared to Nile‘s $12.9 million opening.

Still, after being burned by Gran Turismo a few weeks back, Warner Bros wasn’t going to take any chances, estimating its horror sequel The Nun II to narrowly defeat Venice with $14.7 million to narrowly win the weekend based on estimates. (This is another case where we’ll just have to wait until Monday afternoon to see if those numbers stick or Venice really wins.) That was a 55 percent drop from its opening weekend, which would bring its domestic take to $56.5 million, but we’ll really have to see if that placement sticks when Monday actuals are reported.

Despite better reviews, Venice received the exact same “B” CinemaScore as Branagh’s last two Poirot movies, so who decided that anyone wanted a third movie? Surely, the latest murder mystery would do huge business overseas, right? It did make $22.7 million overseas with $2.6 million in the UK and $2.4 million in China for a global opening of $37.2 million, but we’ll have to see what kind of legs it has.

By comparison, The Nun II grossed $30.1 million internationally in its second weekend, including $4 million in Mexico with a $3.1 million debut in France. The Nun II has made $102.3 million just overseas, with $158.8 million including North America. Reported to have cost less than $40 million, it’s already profitable compared to A Haunting in Venice, which cost $60 million. That’s really what it comes down to when the accountants come into play.

Denzel Washington‘s The Equalizer 3 continues to hold well as one of the stronger sequels of the month, dropping 40 percent to third place with $7.2 million and $73.7 million in North America so far. It’s still unclear if it can get to the $100 million domestic take of the previous two installments, which will depend wholly on whether Sony can keep it in enough theaters through the end of the month. Overseas, it added another $8.3 million to bring its international total to $58.7 million and global gross to $132.4 million. For those keeping track, Denzel’s latest cost $70 million, so it will also be profitable for the studio.

Nia Vardalos‘ comedy threequel, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3, hasn’t been doing as well, as the Focus Features release dropped to fourth place with $4.7 million, down 53 percent in its second weekend. It has made $18.6 million in ten days, which is about what the previous movie made in its opening weekend.

Greta Gerwig‘s global blockbuster Barbie passed Joss Whedon‘s Marvel’s The Avengers to become the 11th highest domestic blockbuster of all time with $626.1 million, just under $4 million of that made in its ninth weekend to retain fifth place, down 30 percent. Despite being in theaters for two months, Warners has finally got it some IMAX screens globally next weekend, which it will be sharing with the Talking Heads concert movie, Stop Making Sense. (See more about that below.)

Yash Raj Films‘ latest Bollywood release, Jawan, starring superstar Shah Rukh Khan, added another $2.5 million to take sixth place, down 59 percent, to bring its domestic total to $12.2 million.

It was followed in seventh place by Warners’ Blue Beetle with $2.5 million and $67.3 million total so far in North America, better than the sequel, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, earlier in the year, but still not great overall.

Neil Blomkamp‘s Gran Turismo added another $2.4 million (down 33 percent) over the weekend for a domestic total of $39.4 million, which has to be seen as a disappointment for Sony. Even so, it finally opened in Japan with $1.2 million on 837 screens, as it crossed the $100 million mark globally with another $3.5 million this weekend in 63 markets. It has grossed $102.9 million worldwide with markets like Italy and South Korea to open next weekend.

Dumb Money
Paul Dano in Dumb Money/Sony Pictures

A week after having its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Craig Gillespie‘s Dumb Money, starring Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Seth Rogen, America Ferrara, Shailene Woodley, and more, was released by Sony into eight theaters in six markets. It was able to gross an estimated $217,000 this weekend or $24,111 per location, not a great start for a movie expected to expand wider over the next few weeks until its nationwide release on Sept. 29.

Still, it did better than two independent films that overreached their bounds with unwarranted wide releases. Blue Fox Entertainment‘s stop-motion animated The Inventor was released into 700 theaters, but only brought in $201,000 or 287 per theater, while Roadside AttractionsCamp Hideout only made $500,000 in 848 theaters, averaging $590 per theater.

Weekend Box Office

Rank Entry Distributor Revenue Theater Count Total Revenue
1 The Nun II Warner Bros. $14,534,579 3,743 $56,327,738
2 A Haunting in Venice 20th Century Studios $14,279,529 3,305 $14,279,529
3 The Equalizer 3 Sony Pictures $7,228,918 3,528 $73,673,848
4 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 Focus Features $4,760,630 3,678 $18,632,245
5 Barbie Warner Bros. $3,821,767 3,012 $625,978,910
6 Blue Beetle Warner Bros. $2,512,268 2,386 $67,318,050
7 Jawan Yash Raj Films $2,408,925 777 $12,108,639
8 Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story Sony Pictures $2,367,175 2,202 $39,440,027
9 Oppenheimer Universal $2,095,495 1,799 $318,634,610
10 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Paramount Pictures $2,027,269 2,066 $114,174,954

Data provided by The Numbers, powered by OpusData

Last Year

The Woman King
Viola Davis in The Woman King/Sony Pictures

Following its TIFF World Premiere, Sony released Gina Prince-Bythewood‘s The Woman King, starring Viola Davis, into 3,765 theaters, enough for it to be the #1 movie with $19 million, averaging $5,000 per theater.

Despite a fairly awful CinemaScore, Zach CreggersBarbarian held up well with a 38 percent drop to second place with $6.5 million and $21.1 million grossed domestically.

Ti West‘s X horror prequel, Pearl, once again starring Mia Goth, was released by A24 into 2,935 theaters, but it only brought in $3.1 million, just $1,066 per theater, and yet, a third movie in the franchise, MaXXXine, had already been announced at that point.

The British murder mystery comedy, See How They Run, starring Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan – kind of like “Poirot Lite” – was released by Searchlight Studios into 2,404 theaters where it only made $3 million or $1,251 per theater. Both those last two movies confirmed what an awful time of the year September is to release a smaller movie.

NEON released Brett Morgen‘s David Bowie collage, Moonage Daydream, into 170 IMAX theaters, where it brought in $1.2 million or $7,236 per location, not bad for a documentary. It just barely got into the top 10 in tenth place.

Upcoming 

A scene from Expend4bles / Lionsgate

Another weekend, another sequel, and only one relatively high-profile wide release. Considering how things have been going, Lionsgate might want to reconsider releasing the ensemble action film, Expend4bles, in the current market, especially without having any of its illustrious cast available to do interviews due to the SAG-AFTRA strike.

Jason Statham and Sylvester Stallone return for this fourth movie, as well as Dolph Lundgren, and Randy Couture, joined by Megan Fox (where has she been?), 50 Cent, Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais (The Raid), essentially a mix of action stars and athletes for this installment directed by Scott Waugh, the former stuntman who directed Need for Speed and other action movies. One presumes that Stallone still has many older male fans, anticipating his return to theaters since Rambo: Last Blood in 2019 — he voiced King Shark in James Gunn‘s The Suicide Squad and had a tiny role in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 3, not quite the same thing. Statham just appeared in Warner Bros’ relative hit Meg 2: The Trench, and reteamed with Guy Ritchie for Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre earlier this year, so he remains a theatrical presence.

The third movie in the Expendables series was released in 2014, opening to just $15.9 million, less than half the opening of the original The Expendables four years earlier. These movies are not cheap, costing close to $100 million, but at least Expendables 3 was salvaged by the global box office of $209 million, compared to the $39.3 million made in North America. Still, that doesn’t bode well for Expend4bles, because it shows a waning interest in the supergroup premise domestically, which probably hasn’t improved with the nine years since that last movie.

Although this will more than likely be #1 this weekend, we’re looking at another September sequel bomb that just doesn’t cut the mustard and will probably have to settle for around $15 million at the very most. At least next weekend, we’ll finally have an original movie to hopefully get moviegoers excited… plus two more sequels.

Meghan Suri in It Lives Inside / NEON

NEON has chosen to release Bishal Dutta‘s feature film debut, the horror flick It Lives Inside, fairly wide this weekend, making it the third weekend in a row with a new horror film. It stars Megan Suri as Samidha, an Indo-American teen with identity issues, who has a falling out with her best friend and releases a demonic entity. We don’t have an estimated theater count for this yet, but the last wide horror release from NEON was Brandon Cronenberg‘s Infinity Pool earlier this year, which opened with just $2.5 million in 1,835 theaters. It Lives Inside will probably be released into closer to 1,000 theaters, and won’t have as many options to promote it into doing much better.

The late Jonathan Demme‘s legendary Talking Heads concert film, Stop Making Sense, will get a 40th anniversary re-release by A24 into IMAX theaters this Friday after a TIFF preview on Sept. 11 that included a QnA between Spike Lee and the reunited four members of the band.

Once director John Carney returns with Flora and Son, another musical comedy, this one starring Eve Hewson (Bono‘s daughter!) as young single mother in Dublin, who decides to take online guitar lessons from Joseph Gordon-Levitt after finding an old acoustic guitar in a dumpster. With Apple TV+ streaming it next Friday, it’s not likely to report box office, but it’s a fun movie to see with an audience if you have a chance. (And I’ll have an interview with Carney later this week.)


Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas

Edward Douglas has been writing about the box office for 21 years at places like ComingSoon.netThe Tracking Board, and many others, but mostly under the banner of “The Weekend Warrior.” He’s also a film critic with bylines at Film JournalThe New York Daily NewsDen of Geek, and more.

Box Office Breakdown will be posted each week by Monday morning. You can read other features by Edward Douglas over at Below the Line and Above the Line.

Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas has written about movies for print and the internet for over 20 years, specializing in box office analysis, reviews, and interviews. Currently, he writes features for Below the Line and Above the Line, acting as Associate Editor for the former and Interim Editor for the latter.
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